If TikTok continued to operate in Hong Kong, it would be in a much trickier position than foreign firms. Unlike companies like Google and Facebook, which are banned in China and thus don’t count the country as a major lifeline, its parent ByteDance earns most of its revenues and has most of its employees in China. A perception of non-compliance by one of its platforms could lead the company to draw the ire of Beijing–as it has in the past. But any perception that it is compromising user privacy would thwart the company’s endeavors to allay worries about its Beijing roots from US lawmakers as it seeks to expand.

In response to such concerns, the company has stated it doesn’t censor the platform, doesn’t store user data in the mainland, and would not share such data with Chinese authorities. TikTok didn’t immediately respond to questions from Quartz seeking clarification about the exit.

Another layer of risk for TikTok comes from the fact that the platform, which promotes itself as being a lighthearted place, is starting to see an increase in political activism and expression. A number of teens, for example, posted satirical “I Love China videos (Quartz member exclusive) to poke fun at the app’s Chinese origins, while the apps users also say they helped tank a Trump rally.

Meanwhile, compared with the statements from Facebook and Twitter, who explicitly reference individual rights as the reason for their decisions, TikTok’s statement is far more vaguely worded, and doesn’t mention the need to protect user safety, say observers.

“TikTok’s decision is a public relations exercise, not a decision based in principle. Notably, TikTok didn’t refer to any principle as being the basis for its decision to move out of Hong Kong, unlike Facebook…,” said Fergus Ryan, an analyst who studies Chinese internet at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). Ryan argues that the exit is also an “easy decision” for TikTok, as most Hong Kongers are already wary of apps that could potentially send data back to Beijing, so there was never much of a likelihood that the app would become popular in Hong Kong, where it had only about 150,000 users as of last August.

Within days, it’s likely users in Hong Kong will no longer be able to download the app, nor continue to use it if they already have it. Instead, internet users may have to embrace their new reality by using Douyin, the heavily censored Chinese counterpart of TikTok currently available only to those in mainland China.

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